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HELP PTYFORK                                       R.Evans December 1986

LIB PTYFORK provides two utilities for communicating with UNIX
subprocesses through a 'pseudotty' (see Unix MAN (4) pty). A pseudotty
has the advantage over a pair of pipes that the child process actually
thinks it is talking to a terminal (some programs behave differently, or
misbehave if they think they are not talking to a terminal).

See *VSH for an example of use.

NB: PTYFORK is currently only available for Berkeley 4.2 systems, and
    systems derived therefrom. Using the library on any other system is
    likely to generate a mishap.

[This and related bsd facilities referred to herein are unsupported, and
therefore included in the $usepop/pop/lib/lib/ directory.
    See DOC * SYSSPEC.

It is therefore necessary to compile PTYFORK explicitly e.g. with one of
the following commands
    uses ptyfork
    lib ptyfork
The latter will print a warning message.

It is hoped that although the facility is unsupported it will serve as
a useful programming example.]

         CONTENTS - (Use <ENTER> g to access required sections)


-- PTYFORK ------------------------------------------------------------

ptyfork(file,args,env) -> slave ( -> masterdev )

The procedure PTYFORK takes three arguments identical to those taken by
*SYSEXECUTE, namely, the name of a file containing an executable image,
a list of strings to pass as arguments (including arg 0), and an
environment list (or false, in which case *POPENVLIST is used), and
returns one or two arguments. It attempts to allocate a pseudotty
pair (master and slave), and if successful, it spawns a subprocess in
which it runs SYSEXECUTE with the arguments given, first reassigning
standard input output and error to the slave side of the pseudotty. It
returns FALSE if it fails, and the name of the slave and the master
device (opened for input and output), if it succeeds.

For example the call:

    ptyfork('/bin/csh',['csh'],false) -> s -> md;

will create a CSH subprocess using the same environment as the POPLOG
process and return a device MD for communicating with it. Any output
produced by the CSH process can be read from MD (see *SYSREAD), and
anything written to MD (see *SYSWRITE) will appear to the CSH process as
though it had been typed to the 'tty' it is connected to. S will contain
the name of this tty (eg '/dev/ttyp3').


PTYFORK does a 'double fork' which means that you do not have to worry
about 'waiting' for the subprocess (see *SYSUTIL/SYSWAIT), when you have
finished with it, just close the device (see *SYSCLOSE).

PTYFORK currently only knows about the first 48 pseudottys, so even if
your system is configured to have more, it will not find them.

-- GET_PTY_PAIR -------------------------------------------------------

PTYFORK uses a utility routine, GET_PTY_PAIR, which is also available to
the user. GET_PTY_PAIR tries to locate a pseudotty pair which is free
for use. It takes no argument and returns either FALSE (meaning it
failed to locate a pseudotty pair), or a string (the name of the slave
tty) and a device (the master device allocated):

    get_pty_pair() -> slave -> masterdev;

The master is opened (for input and output) to ensure the pair is
allocated properly to this process - otherwise some other process may
open it, thus effectively denying this process use of the pair (only one
process may have a master open at a time).

-- SLAVE TTY CONFIGURATION --------------------------------------------

For advanced users only:

When PTYFORK creates the subprocess, it carries out various
configuration operations on the slave side of the pseudotty, using

First of all, it makes the pseudotty the 'controlling tty' (see Unix Man
(4) tty) for the subprocess (it would otherwise inherit the same
controlling tty as the POPLOG process). This means that you can control
the subprocess by sending characters to it through the master (sending
ctrl C will interrupt it, ctrl Z will do end_of_file etc.). Then it
copies the terminal modes of the POPLOG process (specifically, those of
POPDEVOUT) onto the slave tty. Thus the slave will have the same 'stty'
settings (for interrupt, end-of-file etc.) as POPLOG has. The 'tchars'
and 'ltchars' structures (6-character string) it uses are available as
the global constants PTY_TCHARS and PTY_LTCHARS - they can be used by a
program to discover what the control characters for the child process
are. Finally, it sets some of the tty mode flags explicitly, in effect
it does:

    % stty -echo -cbreak -raw nl

(see Unix MAN (1) stty).

--- C.unix/help/ptyfork
--- Copyright University of Sussex 1992. All rights reserved. ----------